Games

Treyarch Reveals Multiplayer Modes, Zombies, And Battle Royale

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 19:00

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12, and will not feature a traditional single-player campaign. However, players will be able to engage with some other modes that have traditionally been limited to multiplayer as solo players, as well as embrace a story that takes place between Black Ops 2 and 3 via single-player missions that focus on multiplayer specialist training. At a Call of Duty community event in Los Angeles today, many aspects of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 have been unveiled.


Multiplayer Tweaks
Black Ops 4 features grounded combat, "boots on the ground" for those familiar with the franchise. This means (with some exceptions due to special abilities on the "specialists" or classes) that there won't be any boosting around or wall running. Instead, weapons get some additional time in the spotlight - each weapon will have unique attachments (instead of broad attachments for a family of guns), including an operator mod. Operator mods add a good deal of differentiation to a weapon. For example, one operator mod might enable suppressing fire that could inhibit enemy vision as the gun lays down a salvo.

Predictive recoil is in - meaning, you can sit and learn exactly how a gun is going to respond and master a weapon's kick. Healing is NOT automatic as it is in most other Call of Duty titles, and must be manually initiated, leaving you vulnerable to attack as your heal ticks up. Some specialists, like the medic, can assist with healing on the fly. Fog of war plays a role on the minimap – things like surpressed weapons are even more valuable since they won’t break the fog, and another specialist, the recon, can help disperse the fog for the whole team. Another specialist can lay down invaluable cover and razor wire to thwart enemy movement into an area. Still other specialist abilities include the reactor core ability which lets you punish any enemies in an area, allowing you to effectively practice area denial. All of these specialist skills look to help competitive multiplayer CoD become more of a team effort and less of a killfest. Don’t worry, scorestreaks are still there! Learning to play a specialist? Single-player missions server as both tutorials and story vessels for those looking for a bit more narrative before digging into multiplayer mayhem.


Zombies, Zombies, and more Zombies
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches with three distinctly different zombie modes. This is a brand new zombie storyline with new characters that draws upon both real and mythological history. Zombie modes feature a 4-player cast as is the standard, but now there are a slew of customization options and a difficulty selection option. Don’t want to play online? No problem, you can now play with bot pals and make your way through the mysteries. If the default difficulty of zombie modes turned you off in the past, you can now select a range of difficulty options to make the undead massacre a touch more friendly. Looking to compete? Zombie players can now use sharable codes (similar to seeds) that let them handle the same challenge and compete for the best scores. In addition, constant updates are scheduled to roll out to zombie mode over time, including seasonal events known as callings.

In one mode, we see our protagonists battling in a gladiatorial arena with melee weapons against a swarm of zombies that seem to have been summoned by an ancient sun-worshipping Egyptian cult. The protagonists use maces, swords, and more as a giant boss zombie bursts into the fray. Treyarch didn’t comment on any details on this mode but as is the standard for Treyarch zombies, it looks massively bizarre and quite interesting.

We get a slightly better look at another mode called the Voyage of Despair, which takes place on the Titanic. Things go a slightly different than the historical iceberg tragedy as a heist turns into an insane barrage of the undead on the ship as the crew are turning into abominations. Showcased are various player abilities that lead me to think that in this mode each character may have its own special skills instead of just being a voice and an avatar.

The last zombie mode is called Blood of the Dead, and we don’t really know anything about this one yet.


Battle Royale Time
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode (current player support count unknown) is Blackout. This mode features a map 1,500 times larger than your typical Call of Duty multiplayer map alongside characters from the entire Black Ops franchise (including zombies). Even more interesting is that this mode includes vehicles of all kinds – ground, air, and sea. In an extremely short teaser trailer, we do see some helicopters dishing out some firepower - but it was more conceptual than anything, and we'll likely have to wait for any footage or details for this mode.


PC Power
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is releasing on PC on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform, the first for the series and the only game other than Destiny to currently share the hallowed halls of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and more. This has exciting prospects for social support and systems, and even more exciting is that PC players can expect uncapped framerate. Aww yeah.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 may not have a traditional single-player campaign, but I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of a CoD serving up a wealth of multiplayer modes that have tons of depth. We’ll see what happens as we head toward release on October 12.

Categories: Games

Treyarch Reveals Multiplayer Modes, Zombies, And Battle Royale

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 19:00

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 releases October 12, and will not feature a traditional single-player campaign. However, players will be able to engage with some other modes that have traditionally been limited to multiplayer as solo players, as well as embrace a story that takes place between Black Ops 2 and 3 via single-player missions that focus on multiplayer specialist training. At a Call of Duty community event in Los Angeles today, many aspects of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 have been unveiled.


Multiplayer Tweaks

Black Ops 4 features grounded combat, "boots on the ground" for those familiar with the franchise. This means (with some exceptions due to special abilities on the "specialists" or classes) that there won't be any boosting around or wall running. Instead, weapons get some additional time in the spotlight - each weapon will have unique attachments (instead of broad attachments for a family of guns), including an operator mod. Operator mods add a good deal of differentiation to a weapon. For example, one operator mod might enable suppressing fire that could inhibit enemy vision as the gun lays down a salvo.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Predictive recoil is in - meaning, you can sit and learn exactly how a gun is going to respond and master a weapon's kick. Healing is NOT automatic as it is in most other Call of Duty titles, and must be manually initiated, leaving you vulnerable to attack as your heal ticks up. Some specialists, like the medic, can assist with healing on the fly. Fog of war plays a role on the minimap – things like surpressed weapons are even more valuable since they won’t break the fog, and another specialist, the recon, can help disperse the fog for the whole team. Another specialist can lay down invaluable cover and razor wire to thwart enemy movement into an area. Still other specialist abilities include the reactor core ability which lets you punish any enemies in an area, allowing you to effectively practice area denial. All of these specialist skills look to help competitive multiplayer CoD become more of a team effort and less of a killfest. Don’t worry, scorestreaks are still there! Learning to play a specialist? Single-player missions server as both tutorials and story vessels for those looking for a bit more narrative before digging into multiplayer mayhem.


Zombies, Zombies, and more Zombies

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches with three distinctly different zombie modes. This is a brand new zombie storyline with new characters that draws upon both real and mythological history. Zombie modes feature a 4-player cast as is the standard, but now there are a slew of customization options and a difficulty selection option. Don’t want to play online? No problem, you can now play with bot pals and make your way through the mysteries. If the default difficulty of zombie modes turned you off in the past, you can now select a range of difficulty options to make the undead massacre a touch more friendly. Looking to compete? Zombie players can now use sharable codes (similar to seeds) that let them handle the same challenge and compete for the best scores. In addition, constant updates are scheduled to roll out to zombie mode over time, including seasonal events known as callings.

In one mode, we see our protagonists battling in a gladiatorial arena with melee weapons against a swarm of zombies that seem to have been summoned by an ancient sun-worshipping Egyptian cult. The protagonists use maces, swords, and more as a giant boss zombie bursts into the fray. Treyarch didn’t comment on any details on this mode but as is the standard for Treyarch zombies, it looks massively bizarre and quite interesting.

We get a slightly better look at another mode called the Voyage of Despair, which takes place on the Titanic. Things go a slightly different than the historical iceberg tragedy as a heist turns into an insane barrage of the undead on the ship as the crew are turning into abominations. Showcased are various player abilities that lead me to think that in this mode each character may have its own special skills instead of just being a voice and an avatar.

The last zombie mode is called Blood of the Dead, and we don’t really know anything about this one yet.


Battle Royale Time

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s battle royale mode (current player support count unknown) is Blackout. This mode features a map 1,500 times larger than your typical Call of Duty multiplayer map alongside characters from the entire Black Ops franchise (including zombies). Even more interesting is that this mode includes vehicles of all kinds – ground, air, and sea. In an extremely short teaser trailer, we do see some helicopters dishing out some firepower - but it was more conceptual than anything, and we'll likely have to wait for any footage or details for this mode.


PC Power

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is releasing on PC on Blizzard’s Battle.net platform, the first for the series and the only game other than Destiny to currently share the hallowed halls of Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and more. This has exciting prospects for social support and systems, and even more exciting is that PC players can expect uncapped framerate. Aww yeah.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 may not have a traditional single-player campaign, but I’m incredibly excited about the prospect of a CoD serving up a wealth of multiplayer modes that have tons of depth. We’ll see what happens as we head toward release on October 12.

Categories: Games

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition Review - The Great Zelda Spin-Off Is Back

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 16:00

Hyrule Warriors is a beautiful, chaotic mess of a game. It's got all the glossy rupees, imaginative monsters, and fashionable characters you'd expect from the Zelda series (and plenty you wouldn't), topped off with some nods to the medieval hack-and-slash Dynasty Warriors series. In place of puzzles and elaborate levels or side-quests, you're here to do one thing--mess up some monsters.

This shouldn't be new to most folks, as the original run of Hyrule Warriors launched back in 2014, but the port to Nintendo Switch brings all the extra characters and items from the DLC, plus some added costumes and all the content from the 3DS version. That's a ton of content to bring to the table, but the game's central theme is the same as ever. That makes the Switch version a tough sell for all but the most dedicated fans of the original or those who have never set foot into the wacky world of this strange mash-up. Given the Wii U's relatively meager sales, though, this is a great second chance for the strongest Zelda spin-off ever.

For the unfamiliar, Dynasty Warriors is a tactical action game that tasks you with managing an army and controlling specific keeps or tracts of land. All the while, you are able to insert yourself directly into the fray as an uber-powered demi-god. That allows you to shift the tide of battle, essentially acting as the queen in chess. Powerful though you may be, you've also got to keep constant track of the field, and where you're needed most. That tension--between the battle right in front of you, and the tactical considerations of the field--represent the core tension of the series.

Hyrule Warriors doesn't compromise on that at all, and even mixes in plenty of mid-game quests and objectives to keep you juggling your goals and constantly weighing your best options. It's a lot to have going on at once, but it genuinely works. Choices are always billed as risks--should you go home and shore up the defenses of your base, or press-on for a valuable collectible? Understanding where you're needed most and how the various elements of a map all play together is important, but it's not so taxing that you can't fudge your way through a good chunk of it.

And that's part of the appeal. As Link or Darunia or Zelda or Impa, you've got the entire Hyrule cast at your back. Zelda isn't some rando, she's a monster-busting fiend. Even when you've got more important decisions to make, watching Zelda summon spears and swords from raw light and dispatching wave after wave of moblins is the kind of cathartic release many have been waiting decades for. This is fan-service at its most pure and most satisfying. Seeing the characters you've grown up with or idolized in new contexts that allow them to unleash their full might, is a bit like taking your favorite characters into Smash Bros. or Marvel vs Capcom. There's an essence of childlike fascination that comes along with it, and Hyrule Warriors wields that well.

Fans of Zelda lore and the like need not turn their noses up at this adventure, either. Provided you can buy into the initial premise and get some mileage there, the adventure is truly a fascinating one. You'll cross dimensions and timelines, bouncing between locales from many of the more recent Zelda entries, including Wind Waker, Breath of the Wild and Skyward Sword. All of this fits tonally too. With more than a dozen characters from all over the timeline and Zelda own history of world-swapping, time-warping weirdness, muddling the lines between worlds a bit to get everyone into the same game feels natural.

If anything, as we stated in our original review, the one major issue this brings up is the longing for flashier attacks and better combos in the mainline Zelda series. And when a spin-off makes you want more from the original, that's certainly a special sort of accomplishment.

New to the Switch version is split screen multiplayer. The original allowed one player to use the Wii U Gamepad, and another to play on the TV. This mode honestly, while nice, isn't much of an improvement. The Switch can still chug a bit when the action gets heavy, and trying pack two players, and the mayhem they cause onto a single screen feels a little tight. Still, it's always nice to have the option.

Those returning to the fray will likely be a little disappointed as there just isn't enough new content to rouse fresh excitement. For newcomers, though, Hyrule warriors is a delightful, bizarre outing that opens up the Zelda series, taking us places we've been before, just with thousands of monsters and awesome, screen-clearing magical attacks.

Categories: Games

Framed Collection Review - Worth A Thousand Words

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 05/17/2018 - 16:00

When it first released in 2014, Framed was declared game of the year by no less than Hideo Kojima. In the years since, this has been the game's enduring legacy--it's not just a good game, but one that inspired an industry heavyweight with its inventiveness. It's a fundamentally robust, unique idea executed well.

Framed Collection brings together Framed and its 2017 follow-up Framed 2 (a prequel, although the plot is largely inconsequential) to Nintendo Switch and PC--both were formerly exclusive to iOS and Android. They are essentially puzzle games in which you're trying to solve a narrative issue--they present comic books where the main characters die or get arrested on every page. Several panels are laid out on each screen, each one depicting different scenes, usually involving one or more of the game's unnamed protagonists trying to outsmart the police or overcome an obstacle. In the opening stages, all you need to do is switch the panels around so that the character can safely get to the end of the 'page' and escape it.

Once you have the panels in an order that you think will work, you press 'play' and watch what happens. To give an early example, if the first (immovable) panel shows two police firing their guns then you'll need to move the panel that shows a table into the second slot, so that the man who is being fired at can immediately dive behind it and take cover. If any other panel is placed second, he'll be shot. All of this is backed by a lovely jazz soundtrack and neat visual style that renders all the characters in silhouette. Framed has a great sense of style, and although some of the backgrounds can be a bit plain (especially in the first game), it's easy to read the action and figure out what is going to happen in each panel as you enter or exit it.

In both games, the puzzles grow more complicated and clever as you progress. Later puzzles will let you rotate panels, sometimes changing the orientation of objects within them, other times shifting a rectangular panel so that it's either vertical or horizontal (which changes the order the panels are 'read' in as well). Others will let you move panels around after you've pressed play, which means that getting through to the last panel on the screen will mean moving through some panels more than once. Everything works on silly video game stealth logic--you can assume that all the police are deaf to anyone behind them--but the game's internal logic is consistent.

It's a clever system, albeit one that feels like it could have been pushed just a little further after finishing both short games. Played back to back, it's the original Framed that stands out the most. It's not necessarily better, per se, but the game has held up well since its initial release, and still feels like a fresh idea. Framed has a loopier structure than the sequel, one that calls attention to the game's weird frame-switching conceit with a plot that is hard to fully understand, but is neat in its ambitiousness. The original game introduces all the series' best concepts and ideas too, and as such ends up feeling a tad more inventive just by virtue of being the first one.

That's not to say that Framed 2 isn't also good fun. It's much nicer visually, and the puzzles are more playful in the sequel--one sequence where you need to change a character's outfit by continually switching around panels so that they alternately put on and take off various items of clothing is a stand-out, as is one scene that lets you rotate the hands of a clock to affect the angle at which one of the characters leaps off it into the next panel. Some other set-pieces, like a fist fight and a sequence where you need to figure out a four-digit code based on a tableau taking up most of the screen, play out as cute proofs-of-concept rather than full-blown ideas, but they're in the minority. Both games have plenty of lovely 'a-ha' moments, where a puzzle clicks and an obvious solution that was staring you in the face suddenly leaps out. Neither is particularly difficult, and while that's not a major issue both games also end abruptly--some further complexity would not have gone amiss.

Framed Collection's only real significant addition is a fast-forward button, which lets you speed up the action after pressing play. This is a bigger deal than it sounds--having to watch the same scenes slowly play out every time you pressed play after organizing panels was the most annoying part of Framed on mobile, and the problem has been mitigated here. You can play either game in TV mode with the Switch, but it's better in handheld mode with touch controls--using a controller just doesn't feel natural, especially when you need to switch between panels quickly. Playing on PC with a mouse is a great fit, too; these games are well suited to a bigger screen, and the art scales well.

Framed Collection is a pleasant reminder of why these mobile games struck such a chord. I wouldn't go as far as Kojima and declare them game of the year material, but I'd be up for a Framed 3 that took the building blocks established by the first two games and found new ways to piece them together. If you've already played Framed 1 and 2 on mobile there's not much reason to come back, but if you haven't these are the best versions of the unique and enduring puzzle games.

Categories: Games

Taking America At Your Own Pace

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 17:00

Driving in games has always been meant to feel freeing, giving players the opportunity to cast off the bonds of traffic and speed limits and roads for complete feeling up until the nearest body of water or wall or extremely off-road terrain. Racing games thus design around these issues, giving you inaccessible terrain to keep you on the course. Where Ubisoft's newest stab at open world racing wants to differentiate itself is how quickly it allows you to circumvent these designs.

With a push of the button, players can change their vehicle in The Crew 2, switching between planes, boats, and automobiles with the same speed as changing weapons in Assassin's Creed. This does, of course, mean that you're taking ramps from the highway and switching to a boat in midair to land in a river and continue up that way. You can also switch to a plane, fly all the way to the top of your vertical limit, turn into a car, and aim for the road.

This switching speaks to a playground mentality of The Crew 2 that differentiates it from the first game. Developer Ivory Tower is crafting a much more playful atmosphere from the underlying mechanics all the way to the story. Gone is the morose crime family story of the previous game, replacing avenging the murder of a family member with getting more social media followers by winning more races and doing more tricks.

This makes The Crew 2 a decidedly lighter narrative and on the whole more narrative-light. Progress is determined by endearing yourself to multiple families who obsess over disciplines in plane tricks, car driving, and boat racing of different stripes. As a rising superstar, the player unlocks new vehicles and further competitions like street racing and off-roading by spending the requisite money.

 

Once the player earns enough followers with each family, there's a multi-vehicle race event held by an extreme sports organization. Players go from racing speedboats, to navigating shipyards on a BMX bike, to racing through the city in quick succession and changes for each event. These races are thrilling and fun and I hope are more common than they seem.

This illustrates a line in The Crew 2 where the game can be separated between its designed races, segments where you're pushing around competitors to shave off a second from your total time, and a genuine sense of relaxing and almost meditative calm from doing literally anything else. Flying over a peaceful countryside, boating along an idyllic lake, inviting a friend and watching them do donuts in the desert, The Crew 2 occasionally feels like an experience to which you can measure your resting heart rate.

There are still some concerns, however. Though the story of the first game felt laughable in its seriousness, the lack of narrative hooks to the sequel feel mildly demotivating at the same time. I'm unsure what the sweet spot is for story in a game like this, but I don't feel like Ivory Tower and Ubisoft have cracked the code yet. While I enjoyed flying around in the plane, it also changed the least of any of vehicles, and I felt like I was just doing the same trick events over and over.

Despite that, I am excited to play more of The Crew 2. There is a spark here that the original game did not possess and I can't wait to explore more of it when the game releases on June 29 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Taking America At Your Own Pace

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/16/2018 - 17:00

Driving in games has always been meant to feel freeing, giving players the opportunity to cast off the bonds of traffic and speed limits and roads for complete feeling up until the nearest body of water or wall or extremely off-road terrain. Racing games thus design around these issues, giving you inaccessible terrain to keep you on the course. Where Ubisoft's newest stab at open world racing wants to differentiate itself is how quickly it allows you to circumvent these designs.

With a push of the button, players can change their vehicle in The Crew 2, switching between planes, boats, and automobiles with the same speed as changing weapons in Assassin's Creed. This does, of course, mean that you're taking ramps from the highway and switching to a boat in midair to land in a river and continue up that way. You can also switch to a plane, fly all the way to the top of your vertical limit, turn into a car, and aim for the road.

This switching speaks to a playground mentality of The Crew 2 that differentiates it from the first game. Developer Ivory Tower is crafting a much more playful atmosphere from the underlying mechanics all the way to the story. Gone is the morose crime family story of the previous game, replacing avenging the murder of a family member with getting more social media followers by winning more races and doing more tricks.

This makes The Crew 2 a decidedly lighter narrative and on the whole more narrative-light. Progress is determined by endearing yourself to multiple families who obsess over disciplines in plane tricks, car driving, and boat racing of different stripes. As a rising superstar, the player unlocks new vehicles and further competitions like street racing and off-roading by spending the requisite money.

Once the player earns enough followers with each family, there's a multi-vehicle race event held by an extreme sports organization. Players go from racing speedboats, to navigating shipyards on a BMX bike, to racing through the city in quick succession and changes for each event. These races are thrilling and fun and I hope are more common than they seem.

This illustrates a line in The Crew 2 where the game can be separated between its designed races, segments where you're pushing around competitors to shave off a second from your total time, and a genuine sense of relaxing and almost meditative calm from doing literally anything else. Flying over a peaceful countryside, boating along an idyllic lake, inviting a friend and watching them do donuts in the desert, The Crew 2 occasionally feels like an experience to which you can measuring your resting heart rate.

There are still some concerns, however. Though the story of the first game felt laughable in its seriousness, the lack of narrative hooks to the sequel feel mildly demotivating at the same time. I'm unsure what the sweet spot is for story in a game like this, but I don't feel like Ivory Tower and Ubisoft have cracked the code yet. While I enjoyed flying around in the plane, it also changed the least of any of vehicles, and I felt like I was just doing the same trick events over and over.

Despite that, I am excited to play more of The Crew 2. There is a spark here that the original game did not possess and I can't wait to explore more of it when the game releases on June 29 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Off Adventure Mode, Demo Announced

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:26

Mario Tennis Aces is shaping up to be a solid offering in the series, and if you're looking try it out for yourself, you're in luck.

Nintendo has announced the arcadey sports game will be getting a free demo from June 1 through 3. The demo consists of both offline and multiplayer modes, with a nice little incentive for online players: A small tournament between demo players in which the winners unlock more characters to play as by earning points.

The four starting characters in the demo are Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Bowser, but Nintendo has not announced who else players might unlock. Finally anyone who plays the demo (offline or online) will unlock Mario's classic outfit in the main game once it hits on June 22.

Additionally, the company has also released a new trailer, showing off the various ways the adventure mode plays around with the base tennis, including teleportation mirrors, extra nets, and Shy Guys.

Categories: Games

New Trailer Shows Off Adventure Mode, Demo Announced

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:26

Mario Tennis Aces is shaping up to be a solid offering in the series, and if you're looking try it out for yourself, you're in luck.

Nintendo has announced the arcadey sports game will be getting a free demo from June 1 through 3. The demo consists of both offline and multiplayer modes, with a nice little incentive for online players: A small tournament between demo players in which the winners unlock more characters to play as by earning points.

The four starting characters in the demo are Mario, Peach, Yoshi, and Bowser, but Nintendo has not announced who else players might unlock. Finally anyone who plays the demo (offline or online) will unlock Mario's classic outfit in the main game once it hits on June 22.

Additionally, the company has also released a new trailer, showing off the various ways the adventure mode plays around with the base tennis, including teleportation mirrors, extra nets, and Shy Guys.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Categories: Games

Battle Chasers Nightwar Review: Switch It Up

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:00

Based on a hit comic book series from the late '90s, Battle Chasers: Nightwar successfully translates the look and feel of a comic into a turn-based RPG. The mesmerizing animated intro shows exactly what you're in for: a wild world where steampunk meets Dungeons & Dragons, rendered in beautiful, deep-shaded colors. It was a spell that was frequently broken when it first released. After months worth of patches, tweaks, and improvements on other platforms, however, it's a very different, and much stronger experience right out of the box on the Nintendo Switch.

The broad premise of the Battle Chasers comic is that a girl named Gully has taken a pair of magic gauntlets, along with a motley crew consisting of a sellsword, a wizard, and a kindly robot, on a journey to find her missing father. The Nightwar chapter, however, is a minor sidetrack from that journey. The crew gets shot down from their airship over a mysterious island with serious problems of its own. Supposedly, the island is home to a mother lode of mana, which has prompted something of a magic-based gold rush. Mercenaries, thieves, unsavory merchants and, most worrisome of all, the attention of an evil sorceress named Destra, are drawn to the island. The crew's plans to depart dissolve into a trek that goes deep into the island's darkest regions.

Battle Chasers endears you in the process of establishing its world, characters, and combat systems. Garrison, the mercenary, is exactly what you might expect from a square-jawed warrior with a tragic backstory: his terse personality keeps him at arm's length from his cohorts. On the flipside, the hulking mech, Calibretto, is a gentle soul who acts more as the defacto healer, and the beating heart of the story as it goes along. The cast at large brings infectious personality and energy to every scene, and all of this is underscored by a delightfully diverse soundtrack, flavoring typical medieval adventure anthems with everything from Chinese string instruments to bassy, trip-hop backbeats.

The game's overworld is dotted with opportunities to battle oozing slimes, vicious wolf men, and surly prospectors. Dilapidated little shanty towns pop up along the way, as well as occasional side quests, which usually impart a bit of lore before asking your band to thwart a high-ranking enemy in a dangerous place. The bread and butter of the game, however, is its major dungeons. Eight in total, the dungeons are procedurally generated. Despite the randomization, each room and its layout is impressively detailed, with smoothly integrated puzzles, that most of the time it's impossible to tell every dungeon wasn't meticulously laid out until you reset one, and re-enter to find an unrecognizable location.

From the outset, combat is fairly standard turn-based fare. Veterans of the game will find that the difficulty curve has been evened out in a way where early battles are still very doable, but don't go too easy on new players. The first few hours are full of hard hits and unexpected deaths for those who don't stay vigilant. Basic enemies hit for dozens of points in damage in a single wave, leaving debuff effects like Poison and Bleeding in their wake before you even really know what they do.

Thankfully, it's fairly easy to turn the tables. Every character has a special skill to affect enemies within dungeons--proactively stunning, ambushing, or igniting them--just before a fight kicks off. The principal gimmick during a fight is the Overcharge system. Basic attacks contribute to a special pool of red mana points that can be used to cast magic and tech attacks, rather than actual mana points. The new balance of progression makes it much easier to gain a foothold in the world, where no fight feels too unwieldy. For the fights that do, the removal of level restrictions on equipment also means that the right tool for the job is never too far out of reach. MP still remains in short supply as the game progresses, however. One should still be mindful about whether to build Overcharge or expend mana when using abilities. This gets increasingly tricky, but in a way that keeps you engaged in every battle, no matter how small.

There were two major problems with Battle Chasers when it first released: A severely steep difficulty curve as the game progressed into its second and third acts, and frequent, aggravating load times going into both battles and new areas. The bad news is that the second issue remains. Even on the more powerful PS4, months of patches still leave a problem where even just getting into a fight in the overworld map can stop the game dead for 30 seconds to load a single, low-level enemy. At least that system gets 60fps fights as a consolation prize. The Switch gets no such benefit, with not just a lower resolution, but intermittent stutters in framerate the more active and flashy the attacks. On both systems, going from the overworld to a dungeon or vice versa can keep you trapped on a loading screen for close to a minute.

The good news is that everything else feels great. Changes to the game's XP and various store economies make it easier to keep your companions ahead of the curve through regular gameplay instead of through tedious grinding—though that's still an option if you want it to be, and the rewards are now much more worthy of the effort. The same considerations still have to be made with each new piece of gear. Armor typically raises a character's HP, stamina, and speed, but drastically lowers physical and magical defense--stats that matter against stronger enemies. The trick of it is finding items that counterbalance the loss, and the odds of that happening, as it stands, have been improved for the better.

Beyond the challenge of combat, Battle Chasers is sustained through the strength of its story, a rollicking tale that takes our heroes literally to hell and back. It's bolstered by some sharp dialogue, gorgeous artwork, and an ensemble that plays extremely well off of each other. Lots of work has gone into Nightwar since its first release, and the balancing improvements make it an easy game to recommend on all platforms.

Categories: Games

Rage 2 Gameplay Trailer Welcomes You To The Shooterverse

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:05

Bethesda has been hosting a week-long campaign teasing Rage 2 after Walmart leaked the game's existence. Yesterday the publisher officially announced the game with a live-action clip, and today we finally got a peak at gameplay.

You can watch the trailer in all its tire-burning, slobbering mutant glory right here:

Bethesda says that you'll be playing as a ranger named Walker and that "you'll have to rage for justice and freedom" as you take on gangs and a bloodthirsty authoritarian power. The publisher also characterizes Rage 2, developed by Avalanche Studios (Just Cause, Mad Max) as a shooter/open-world hybrid where you can take on foes with upgradeable weapons, powers, and any vehicle you can get your hands on.

Rage 2 arrives in 2019. Bethesda will reveal more about the game at its E3 showcase this year on June 10.

For more on Rage, check out our review of the original Rage here.

Categories: Games

Rage 2 Trailer Welcome You To The Shooterverse

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:05

Bethesda has been hosting a week-long campaign teasing Rage 2 after Walmart leaked the game's existence. Yesterday the publisher officially announced the game with a live-action clip, and today we finally got a peak at gameplay.

You can watch the trailer in all its tire-burning, slobbering mutant glory right here:

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Bethesda says that you'll be playing as a ranger named Walker and that "you'll have to rage for justice and freedom" as you take on gangs and a bloodthirsty authoritarian power. The publisher also characterizes Rage 2, developed by Avalanche Studios (Just Cause, Mad Max) as a shooter/open-world hybrid where you can take on foes with upgradeable weapons, powers, and any vehicle you can get your hands on.

Rage 2 arrives in 2019. Bethesda will reveal more about the game at its E3 showcase this year on June 10.

For more on Rage, check out our review of the original Rage here.

Categories: Games

FAR: Lone Sails Review: Come Sail Away

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 05/15/2018 - 15:00

FAR: Lone Sails, the debut title of Swiss developer Okomotive, opens with your character--an unnamed, ambiguous figure in red--wordlessly paying their final respects at a grave behind their home. As you guide them from left to right, through their residence and out the front door, you leave it behind and set out on an unclear journey. The world is tinged grey, broken, abandoned. You quickly arrive at the vehicle that serves as your dwelling for the rest of the trek, a landbound ship that uses petrol, steam, wind, and its giant wheels and sails to propel itself forward. You henceforth pilot the ship in a straight line away from your home, unsure of the specifics of your destination or purpose--it seems like you're simply trying to go as far as possible.

Lone Sails is a 2D puzzle game in which there are no enemies, few challenges, and a purposefully vague narrative. These are all ideas we've seen attached to plenty of other indie platform-puzzle games, and in the opening few minutes described above it all feels very familiar. But it does not take long for Lone Sails to emerge with its own distinct voice and identity, and that's thanks to the ship you're piloting.

You'll spend at least half your time running around inside your ship--presented from a bisected viewpoint whenever you enter it--pressing the big red buttons that operate its various functions. You'll need to make sure that you've got fuel in the tank before firing the engine, meaning you'll often have to stop and collect canisters of it from outside during your journey (at no point in my playthrough did I come even remotely close to running out). Steam will build up if the engine runs for long enough, and pressing the associated button releases a valve and gives you a brief speed boost. Aside from these functions, most parts of your ship don't require frequent attention. You have a hose for fires and a repair torch, but they're generally only needed during or following set-pieces; a brake that brings you to an immediate halt; and, following an early upgrade, a set of sails that you can coast with if the wind permits.

There are plenty of sections where the ship must be brought to a halt so that you can leave and fiddle around outside to clear a path or get yourself moving again. These are Lone Sail's puzzles, and they're generally quite gentle, usually not involving much more than figuring out the right order to hit a series of red buttons or attaching your ship's winch to something. But even if they're not challenging, these set-pieces are usually delightful, either in how much your meddling changes the environment around you, or how the world's vistas stretch out behind you, or because they end with your ship getting a neat upgrade. FAR: Lone Sails is consistently engaging, with a tactile pleasure to pulling boxes, pressing buttons, and jumping around as needed.

But there are also long stretches where you'll likely find yourself doing nothing--the wind is carrying your ship, everything is organized below deck, and there's not much to do but sit on top and admire the view while listening to the soft orchestral soundtrack that kicks in during these quieter scenes. In these moments, as you take a moment to appreciate Lone Sail's beauty, the storytelling feels especially confident and focused. The world is beautiful, even though it's vaguely post-apocalyptic, with much of the landscape made up of a drained sea-bed and abandoned buildings. There are little hints at what may have happened to the world here and there, but ultimately the world outside of your ship doesn't matter so much until near the end of the journey, as the game's final act unfurls in a way that informs everything that came before it. Coming to appreciate the extended stretches of tranquility that Lone Sails often stretches out is one of its greatest pleasures.

You are always alone, and because of that, your attachment to the ship grows deeper. After a while, exiting the ship for any period starts to feel dangerous despite the lack of enemies. When bad weather conditions kick in at various points, leaving the ship feels akin to having to get out from under your blanket on a cold night. The ship feels alive and reactive, thanks in large part to great visual and sound design. Watching the turbines whir and embers shoot out from the back when you release steam, or even just sitting on top of the ship as it blasts along a flat with its sails out, is a bonding experience.

This is a polished game, with only a few minor issues that I encountered. Every now and then an object in the foreground would obstruct my view of some parts of the ship, but the ship's layout is easy enough to remember that this was only a minor roadblock. Twice I had to reload my most recent checkpoint because I got stuck--once it was my own fault, the other time I was trapped by a rare invisible wall designed to keep me from going a certain way. But the checkpointing is generous enough that I didn't lose more than two minutes of progress, and I generally felt totally in control of my ship. It's also quite easy overall, and up until a surprising death towards the end of it all, I didn't even know you could die.

Lone Sails is a transfixing, lovely experience, one that takes recurring indie game tropes and does something unique and fun with them. It's short enough that you could play through it in a single two or three-hour session, but it will likely stick with you for a long time. I can see myself going back in a few months just to revisit the ship, like checking in on an old friend.

Categories: Games

New Weather System Looks Pretty Neat

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 20:10

Wargroove is shaping up to be a neat little tactics game, and the game's recently announced weather system should make battles a little more harrowing and dynamic.

According to Chucklefish, the weather system consists of three weather types: sunny, windy, and severe. While the first two are self-explanatory, what "severe" depends on a particular map's biome, and can consist of rain, snow, or sandstorm (so no snow in the desert and now sandstorms in a forested village).

How do these effects change battle? When it's windy, boats will be able to move further, archers will be able shoot farther, and flying units like dragons will deal more damage. Severe weather instead limits units, meaning would-be commanders will have to be more careful when building their gameplan.

Chucklefish is still messing around with individual effects and settings, but you can see weather in action in gif form on the company's official site or below. If you'd rather just keep it simple, you can turn off weather entirely in the game's multiplayer settings.

Categories: Games

New Weather System Looks Pretty Neat

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 20:10

Wargroove is shaping up to be a neat little tactics game, and the game's recently announced weather system should make battles a little more harrowing and dynamic.

According to Chucklefish, the weather system consists of three weather types: sunny, windy, and severe. While the first two are self-explanatory, what "severe" depends on a particular map's biome, and can consist of rain, snow, or sandstorm (so no snow in the desert and now sandstorms in a forested village).

How do these effects change battle? When it's windy, boats will be able to move further, archers will be able shoot farther, and flying units like dragons will deal more damage. Severe weather instead limits units, meaning would-be commanders will have to be more careful when building their gameplan.

Chucklefish is still messing around with individual effects and settings, but you can see weather in action in gif form on the company's official site or below. If you'd rather just keep it simple, you can turn off weather entirely in the game's multiplayer settings.

Categories: Games

The Castlevania-Inspired Platformer Is Coming This Month

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 19:46

Later this year, Koji Igarashi's Bloostained: Ritual of the Night is heading for release. Before that happens, however, Igarashi has yet another Bloodstained coming out, and it's releasing this month.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an 8-bit, Castlevania throwback. You play as Zangetsu, a demon slayer with a vengeance who travels through an ominous land to defeat a powerful demon. Zangetsu will meet other characters along the way, who can join your party to help you defeat enemies on your journey.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was promised as a stretch goal for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $5.5 million. 

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is coming out on May 24 and will cost $9.99. Those who backed Ritual of the Night on Kickstarter for more than $28, however, receive it for free. It's coming to a slew of platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Vita, 3DS, and PC.

Categories: Games

The Castlevania-Inspired Platformer Is Coming This Month

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 19:46

Later this year, Koji Igarashi's Bloostained: Ritual of the Night is heading for release. Before that happens, however, Igarashi has yet another Bloodstained coming out, and it's releasing this month.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an 8-bit, Castlevania throwback. You play as Zangetsu, a demon slayer with a vengeance who travels through an ominous land to defeat a powerful demon. Zangetsu will meet other characters along the way, who can join your party to help you defeat enemies on your journey.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was promised as a stretch goal for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night's 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $5.5 million. 

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is coming out on May 24 and will cost $9.99. Those who backed Rtiual of the Night on Kickstarter for more than $28, however, receive it for free. It's coming to a slew of platforms including Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Vita, 3DS, and PC.

Categories: Games

Destiny 2: Warmind Review - Back To Work

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 16:00

Destiny 2 has been struggling to keep its players invested for a while now. Going into its second expansion, Warmind, the biggest question was whether or not Destiny 2 can entice people to come back to it. This expansion is geared more toward the hardcore players, offering difficult endgame activities and a slower, more demanding level grind to get there. If you aren't interested in those things, though, there's not a lot here besides the same old Destiny 2 activities to draw you in.

Warmind's campaign consists of a handful of missions, and it takes around an hour and a half to complete. If you haven't played Destiny 2 much since Curse of Osiris, it's easy to jump back in; I started at 310 power and did some minimal grinding to keep up with each mission's recommended level. It remains a very welcome change from Destiny's more punishing pace, where skipping a few weeks meant another few weeks of intense grinding just to catch up.

Like most story-centric activities in Destiny 2, Warmind's campaign does just enough explaining to justify fighting enemies in the first place and leaves you to fill in the rest yourself. That can work really well, but in Warmind, a lot of seemingly important things are packed into a very short amount of time; a buried Golden Age research facility, new information about Rasputin, a crazy-powerful spear, and suddenly a giant worm that you have to kill. It's not that those things aren't connected but rather that there's no time to absorb anything before you're in the final fight, and it's anticlimactic as a result.

Individually, Warmind's different components are actually kind of cool. The Valkyrie spear can take out swarms of enemies in one very satisfying throw, and fighting a huge, serpentine monster is fun just for the spectacle of it. The new ally character, Ana Bray, is almost interesting--she's related to Clovis Bray, a historical figure in Destiny lore, and can speak to Rasputin--but she doesn't have enough time to develop into anything substantial. Though Warmind is an expansion about a hyper-intelligent AI that's been around since the first game, it feels like these are just the building blocks for what could be a compelling story.

For laidback Destiny 2 players, the more accessible activities are a great way to test out the new Exotic weapon changes that launched alongside the expansion. The 1.2.0 update is available even if you don't have Warmind, but it's at least nice to have a reason to try out the Exotic buffs. My personal favorites are the Graviton Lance, which now fires a two-round burst with a heftier and more satisfying explosion on impact, and Riskrunner, which deals more damage when its Arc Conductor buff is active. They actually feel like true Exotics now and as a result are loot worth chasing, so much so that the changes kind of steal Warmind's thunder.

Two of Warmind's story missions are disappointingly repurposed as Strikes, just like in Curse of Osiris. The addition of Nightfall-like modifiers to Heroic Strikes makes them a lot more difficult, at least, but the loot chest reward for completing them doesn't match the challenge--weapons and gear drop at 340 power, which is right about where you'll be when you finish the story. The new cap is 385, leaving a large gap between the "easy" content and the endgame that could have been filled with mid-tier Heroic Strike rewards. As a whole, the mid-level section of the expansion is unfortunately pretty empty of anything to motivate you to keep going forward.

The new destination, the polar ice caps of Mars, is around the size of Io. In addition to new Adventures and Lost Sectors, Mars has new secrets to hunt down in the form of Sleeper Nodes. They're primarily for other quests, but they can be fun to look for and a good excuse to explore. Mars also boasts a new activity, Escalation Protocol. It works kind of like a Public Event in that anyone in the area can join, but it's way harder, throwing waves of high-level Hive at you. As of week one, it's basically impossible to complete it, which makes it a nice accomplishment to chase if you've been wanting more to do in the late game. So far, Escalation Protocol is the most intriguing thing in Warmind--I actually want to level up enough so I can see what happens and what kind of loot I can get.

It certainly feels like Warmind has a slower burn than vanilla Destiny 2 or Curse of Osiris. In order to get the Exotic fusion rifle Sleeper Simulant, for example, you have to complete a time-intensive multi-step quest that involves running both Heroic Strikes and Escalation Protocols. On the hardcore end of things, the challenging new Raid Lair is a big incentive to get your power level up. The grinding alone will likely keep the most dedicated players busy for a bit, and figuring out and implementing a viable strategy once you actually make it to the Raid Lair is, as always, a reward in itself.

However, if you aren't already dedicated to reaching the level cap and completing every late-game activity, Warmind doesn't offer many draws for you; the only reason to do anything is to level up or get new loot, and that can keep you busy for a while this time around. How busy depends on your patience when grinding and your desire to jump through every hoop to get there. That barren middle-tier--when you've beaten the story and need to grind 20 or 30 power levels so you can reach the endgame--is a very easy place to lose steam.

Categories: Games

Bringing The Hunt To Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 17:45

Today, Nintendo made a big announcement about Capcom's successful action/RPG franchise. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is coming to Switch, and its release date is only a few months away.

Monster Hunter Generations originally hit 3DS back in 2016, and many diehards were hoping the Switch version, which released a year ago in Japan, would make its way to our shores. Thankfully, that's now a reality. Generations Ultimate is an HD port and expansion of the 3DS version.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate holds the basic gameplay loop that fans have adored, which includes hunting monsters and customizing their avatars with their parts. However, due to the game launching last year in Japan, don't expect this version to contain the enhancements, such as the more accessible controls, from Monster Hunter: World. That being said, you still can hunt with up to three other players online to take down the biggest and hardest foes. 

Our own Dan Tack loved the 3DS version for its variety of bosses and landscapes, as he wrote in his review: "While Monster Hunter can be distilled down into a basic loop of hunt, gather, upgrade, micromanage inventory and Palico perks, rinse and repeat, the process is quite satisfying as the “boss barrage” continues to serve up interesting encounters across snowfields, volcanos, and lush islands." 

Nintendo also provided a trailer for the announcement, which you can watch below.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate hits Switch on August 28. This is the series' first foray on the console, giving players the option to hunt on the go or on the big screen.

Categories: Games

Bringing The Hunt To Switch

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 05/10/2018 - 17:45

Today, Nintendo made a big announcement about Capcom's successful action/RPG franchise. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is coming to Switch, and its release date is only a few months away.

Monster Hunter Generations originally hit 3DS back in 2016, and many diehards were hoping the Switch version, which released a year ago in Japan, would make its way to our shores. Thankfully, that's now a reality. Generations Ultimate is an HD port and expansion of the 3DS version.

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate holds the basic gameplay loop that fans have adored, which includes hunting monsters and customizing their avatars with their parts. However, due to the game launching last year in Japan, don't expect this version to contain the enhancements, such as the more accessible controls, from Monster Hunter: World. That being said, you still can hunt with up to three other players online to take down the biggest and hardest foes. 

Our own Dan Tack loved the 3DS version for its variety of bosses and landscapes, as he wrote in his review: "While Monster Hunter can be distilled down into a basic loop of hunt, gather, upgrade, micromanage inventory and Palico perks, rinse and repeat, the process is quite satisfying as the “boss barrage” continues to serve up interesting encounters across snowfields, volcanos, and lush islands." 

Nintendo also provided a trailer for the announcement, which you can watch below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate hits Switch on August 28. This is the series' first foray on the console, giving players the option to hunt on the go or on the big screen.

Categories: Games

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Officially Revealed

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 05/09/2018 - 15:40

Konami has officially revealed details regarding this year's installment in its long-running Pro Evolution Soccer series – proving that an earlier leak promising new licensed leagues and major changes to the series' MyClub and Master League modes was true.

  • Master League: New licensed leagues are being added along with the pre-season International Champions Cup tournament. Furthermore, the transfer negotiation and budget systems have been redone, including re-sell and clean-sheet contract options. Konami says that more info on the official league licenses is coming in the future.
  • Gameplay: 11 skill traits have been added for players, including rising/dipping shots and a no-look pass, and players' stamina and fatigue is more evident. This makes substitutions more important, and the game has added a quick substitution menu so you don't have to pause the game. Improvements have also been made to areas such as dribbling, ball trajectory and bounce, and players' reaction animations.
  • Visuals: Snow is back in the game and it affects gameplay, and the title supports 4K HDR. The lighting has been redone, and new animations have been added to the crowd. Konami says their excitement should be more evident in games as well.
  • MyClub: Players with limited-time boosted stats and skills reflecting their real-life performance are available as well as new licensed Legend players. A new weekly PES League features multiple competitive divisions and rewards. Overall, the developer says that the way gamers go about building their squads will be different.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 comes out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 28 in the Americas with Barcelona and Brazilian national team star Philippe Coutinho as the cover star. The game comes in Standard, David Beckham, and Legend Edition varieties, with pre-order gifts for the digital version. For more info on the game and its different versions versions head over to the official Konami site

We'll get our hands on the title at E3 in June, and can not only size up the gameplay but hopefully get a tour of the revamped Master League.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[Source: Konami] 

Categories: Games

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